More than halfway across the universe, an enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus is the farthest individual star ever seen. Normally, it would be much too faint to view, even with the world’s largest telescopes. But through a quirk of nature that tremendously amplifies the star’s feeble glow, astronomers using @NASAHubble were able to pinpoint this faraway star and set a new distance record. They also used Icarus to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a foreground galaxy cluster.
The star, harbored in a very distant spiral galaxy, is so far away that its light has taken 9 billion years to reach Earth. It appears to us as it did when the universe was about 30 percent of its current age.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota)
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